The presentation was followed by interventions from IFAD colleagues. Khadidja Doucoure, Regional Gender Coordinator in West and Central Africa, presented the significant progress that IFAD-supported projects in the region have made over the last years in promoting gender equality. IFAD’s Land Tenure Adviser, Jean Maurice Durand, explained that IFAD has learned that defending and expanding women’s rights requires comprehensive action at different levels: information and capacity building; organizational and empowerment measures; legal assistance and advocacy. Land tenure issues are inextricably linked to gender relations and thus a gender analysis is critical to design effective, targeted actions. It is often necessary to put complementary measures in place to enable women to influence decisions about their rights to land. Intra-household dimensions must be taken into consideration. Wafa El Khoury, IFAD’s Senior Agronomist, highlighted the importance of looking at the management of a farm in a holistic manner. The timeliness of labour and inputs is important. Given that traditional extension systems do not favour women, farmer field schools appear to be more appropriate. Women need to be encouraged to join farmers’organisations. Finally, IFAD’s Technical Adviser on Value Chains, Marco Camagni, emphasized that the starting point should always be the market. However, a balance must be sought between cash and food crops. Access to information is key and partnerships with the private sector should be strengthened.
June 12, 2014
by Melissa Reichwage
Given their importance and vulnerability to climate variability, smallholder mixed crop-livestock systems should be a primary target for strategies to produce more food while taking less from the land.
Climate change is happening even faster and with more damaging effects on the world’s food security than previously anticipated, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s most authoritative body on climate change science.
Agricultural research for development can make a big difference at every step from field to fork by, for example, providing new strategies that help smallholder farmers balance the needs of livestock and crops or by encouraging and guiding investments and policy. Scientists have identified a number of adaptation options: including better technologies, such as drought-tolerant crops; behavior changes, as in diets; improved land management practices; and new policies to foster market and infrastructure development.
One of the biggest challenges in implementing climate-smart agriculture is ensuring that solutions are locally appropriate. “Dozens of activities can help crop-livestock farmers adapt to climate change or reduce their emissions, while boosting their food security. But there is no fixed package of interventions or a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Leigh Winowiecki, a CIAT soil scientist, who is working on the project.
By linking social and ecological tools and datasets, CIAT and partners are identifying and scaling out context-specific strategies for climate-smart agriculture.
The “Increasing food security and farming system resilience in East Africa through wide-scale adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices” project led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), through the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), specifically its Flagship 4 on policies and institutions for climate-resilient food systems, is being supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Over the next 3 years, the project will work closely with IFAD and national and international partners in Tanzania and Uganda to scale up climate-smart options. An assessment of the impacts and suitability of these options at the local level will help mixed system smallholders, especially women and marginalized groups, make better choices about a number of practices and techniques on offer, based on their real needs. The innovative approach includes spatially explicit monitoring and modeling of land health and agronomic suitability, and on-farm participatory research to ensure the success of the practices on the ground.
By working with farmers and local, regional, national, and international partners to mix and match the most locally appropriate solutions, climate-smart agriculture is becoming a bit smarter.
Learn more about CIAT’s partnership with IFAD in the Stewardship Report outlining our shared vision of a world without poverty and hunger.
Originally posted on CIAT website
Rwanda- Using Climate games to understand the reality of how climate change is affecting small scale farmers
By Margot Steenbergen & Gernot Laganda
“I could better understand the reality of how climate change is affecting the ‘on the ground reality of small scale farmers’, in a safe environment, without my investment actions being harmful.”
This comment was made by one of the participants of an innovative two-day climate change workshop held in Kigali, Rwanda. The workshop was organized by the Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) of IFAD-supported projects in Rwanda. The specific programme that initiated this workshop is the Climate Resilient Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project (PASP). This project includes an innovative grant for climate change adaptation provided by IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP).
Alphonse Mutabazi, Climate Change expert from the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority “preparing” for a flood.
The country strategy supported by IFAD plans to create 200 collection points for agricultural produce, called HUBs. For the moment, the programme focuses on the five value chains of maize, cassava, beans, Irish potatoes, and dairy. These value chains are part of the Government of Rwanda’s flagship Crop Intensification Programme (CIP).
Reducing post harvest losses through the creation and support of climate smart HUBs is a practical example of climate change adaptation. Some regions in Rwanda are experiencing increasingly longer dry spells, alternated by shorter, but more intensive periods of rainfall. An on the ground reality is that harvesting now takes place at wetter times of the year. Consequently, farmers can no longer rely on the sun to dry cereals to safe moisture content.
Moreover, the IFAD supported project allows for specific climate risk management actions, including improved use of weather forecasts. The programme is novel, and the idea of climate change, and climate change adaptation are relatively new to the country programme team. As part of the initial capacity building strategy, a climate change workshop was organized.
In addition to technical lectures by the Rwandan Meteorological Agency (RMA), and the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre was invited to allow for the participants to ‘experience’ the effects of climate change, in the safe setting of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Through the tried and tested methodology of ‘serious games’, the participants appreciated the value of forecast based decision making.
Some decisions had better outcomes for the participants than others
Three decades of development investment decisions made in the space of an hour, while taking into consideration complexities caused by climate change? No problem for the participants of this climate change workshop.
Similarly, being asked to think as a HUB manager, they were presented with the following options:
For the next year, do we invest in:
A) Collecting and processing maize, and ensuring the maize flour will reach a market (regular HUB activities);
B) Ensuring we do not suffer the negative consequences from a potentially devastating flood, by purchasing hermetically sealed harvest storage bags;
C) Longer term, more expensive climate risk management measures, such as elevated and more robust storage facilities;
D) Improved Flood Early Warning Systems, which similarly require an initial investment.
Complex trade offs, in a complex setting triggered rich discussions. The real value of improved early warning systems and longer-term climate risk management became more evident. In a country that is 85 percent rural, largely agriculture dependent and highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate stresses, a shift towards longer-term protection could be very beneficial.
The workshop not only improved the understanding of climate change, but also fostered the grounds for new partnerships between different government agencies. All in all, a very promising start of the IFAD supported Climate Resilient Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project of the Government of Rwanda.
|The Knowledge Management System|
|Robert Ouma facillitates the workshop|
|Miriam Cherogony awards Habte Mebre with a certificate of participation at the workshop|
By Steve Twomlow and Will Critchley
|©IFAD -Lindiwe planting |
in the rows made by the ripper
Using mechanized conservation agriculture, a farmer can complete land preparation, fertilizing and planting all in one operation and in a fraction of the time it takes with conventional ploughing. This method uses the principles of minimum soil tillage, or “Climate Smart” agriculture practices, advocated by Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary, Dr Robert Thwala.
A 4x4 John Deer 5503 supplied by Swazi Trac in Matsapha rigged with a 5-tooth rippertyne was unveiled during the first demonstration. The designated field was just over a hectare, where Lindiwe Magagula (a local farmer) intended to grow legumes.
When the tractor starts, the ripper opens five trenches that are almost 25-30 centimetres deep and 45 centimetres apart. The ripper leaves rows of grass between the trenches. Norman Mavuso, a sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, showed Lindiwe how to mix the herbicide and using a sprayer on her back, how to spray the grass with a special Springbok herbicide to dry the grass so that it forms a mulch cover between the rows of plants.
The reduced tillage equipment makes it possible for the tractor to open planting lines, apply fertilizer, seed and cover in one pass. The fertilizer dispenser is able to place fertilizer on one side of the trench and the seed on the other, eliminating the danger of the seed being scorched.
The tractor drawn no-till equipment is so time efficient that it is possible to plant a maximum of sixteen fields instead of four, assuming that it spends two hours at work.
“Last year we conducted a rapid perception survey to understand public attitudes towards CA. We found that even though people see and appreciate the benefits that come with the CA practice, they are discouraged by the heavy manual labor involved. The information was valuable as it convinced us to explore ways of reducing the manual labour through mechanization,” said Mavuso. This observation was confirmed by Lindiwe, who joked that her children run away when it is time to engage in hoeing to dig the planting holes.
CA was introduced in Swaziland as a poverty alleviation initiative after trials in Zimbabwe and Kenya showed minimum tillage greatly improved productivity at much lower costs. Over the years however it has gained the reputation as a practice for poor people.
“We have now realized that to succeed in promoting universal CA, we must recognize that farmers are at different levels of development sophistication. Therefore it is important to deploy not one, but a range of tools so that everyone can find a tool that they can use according to their level of development”, explained Mavuso.
Universal implementation of CA is expected to greatly improve national yields, especially for the priority national staple food – maize, by addressing two destructive practices.
In some cases, farmers opt to follow the tractor and drop seed as it ploughs. This method is not only inefficient, but the seed is planted too deep into the soil, resulting in limited or no germination or delayed germination.
A second problem practice is wrong application of fertilizer. Reliance on rain has scared farmers to adopt cautious approaches to limit their losses in the case it does not rain for a long time. Fertilizer is the most expensive input. As a result, farmers wait until it rains before risking their fertilizer – a very destructive practice. “Farmers now commonly plant seed without fertilizer, and wait for it to grow. They return when the seedling has grown a few centimetres and apply a side dressing with fertilizer. This is a total waste because fertilizer is a combination of three components: Phosphorus, Potassium and Nitrogen. The roots require all three nutrients to develop and feed the plant. Since the roots grow downwards, the fertilizer is wasted because it does not benefit the roots. Some nitrogen is absorbed by the plant, yet potassium and phosphorus could be the most expensive items that are totally wasted.
Instead, spreading mulch to provide soil cover is a CA practice that creates compost, thereby replacing nutrients plants constantly remove from the soil. It also preserves moisture.
For now, the project is confined to Siphofaneni and Sithobela rural development areas (RDAs). When demand increases, the project plans to scale-up implementation nationally.
By Stephen Twomlow
In Ethiopia, overgrazing and the resulting land degradation has been one of the major challenges to rural development of the last 50 years. Livestock numbers are ever-increasing meaning an escalation of grazing, leaving the land prey to spiraling erosion, a diverse range of local species are lost, and ecosystems jeopardised and vital water streams dry up.
|Figure 1 - ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley|
Cynics believe the contrary, and predict widespread desertification as the inevitable and final consequence of overgrazing. A second opinion holds that establishing large private ranches, practising holistic range management– limiting herding to a few efficient emerging cattle farmers and encouraging the rest of the community to move onto and adapt new urban livelihoods – is a possible way forward.
|Figure 2 - ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley|
The IFAD-GEF-AECID funded ‘Community-based Integrated Natural Resources Management Project’ (CBINReMP) has been supporting government policy in the Lake Tana basin of Ethiopia to provide communities land-use rights through a registration and certification processes, to demarcate land holdings and define the use of parcels of land on the proviso that the groups of livestock herders are required to improve their common land.
Often, the communities choose to close-off the area from grazing until it recovers adequately to allow a ‘cut and carry’ system of livestock feeding. Each family agrees to harvest only sufficient fodder for their animals - now kept close to their homesteads. Admittedly the initial transition period is tough – and fodder is scarce for one or two seasons. But experience shows that once the land recovers, animal nutrition improves and there are visible benefits to the environment. Indigenous, stoloniferous grasses recolonize bare patches of land, local legumes re-emerge and thrive, and streams are observed to flow for longer each year. Natural regeneration of multipurpose trees takes place, and unwanted species are weeded out. A virtuous cycle is established.
|Figure 3 - ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley|
|Figure 4 - ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley|
There was a general consensus that family farming is the cornerstone of national food security. Participants agreed that there is still a tremendous untapped potential in smallholder agriculture, and especially among some of its target groups, such as women and youth. Agribusinesses (small, medium and large companies involved in the provision of agricultural input, processing, packaging and food distribution) are an essential segment of agricultural value chains as they link family farmers to urban consumers and allow for a development that is dynamic, sustainable and which created jobs and wealth. Building on their respective comparative advantages, the links between family farming and agribusinesses need to be strengthened through win-win partnerships. Agricultural policies and development actors have a role to play in facilitating the development of value chains that contribute to national food security and the inclusive growth of rural economies.